POWER was out across New Providence for up to seven hours on Friday, the second time in three days the island has been severely affected, as Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) worked to fix "a major cable fault".
By 6pm the company said it hoped to have all but two per cent of its customers restored to full service. In a statement BPL said its initial diagnosis was that a major cable fault was to blame for the system failure .
It is the latest issue to affect the corporation, which continues to grapple with problems. On Wednesday it blamed “generation challenges” at its power stations for the need to introduce two-hour “outage rotations” throughout New Providence.
A BPL statement at 4.30pm read: "Bahamas Power and Light Company Limited (BPL) has completed restoration in New Providence following an island wide outage just after 11am (Friday). Early indications show that a major cable fault was responsible for the system failure; however, BPL will carry out a complete investigation once its system has stabilised.
"Crews began restoration just after 12 noon and systematically restored supply across the island throughout the afternoon. Supply was substantially restored before 2pm; however, BPL acknowledges that it is still carrying out repairs on some individual feeders. As a result, small groups of customers (less than 2%) are still without supply. BPL expects to complete most of these repairs by 6pm this evening.
"The company acknowledges that it has ongoing issues with its system in New Providence and, from time to time, customers may experience periods of supply interruption. The company apologises for these intermittent outages and advises that it is working on immediate and long term solutions to improve reliability."
On Wednesday BPL announced “outage rotations” throughout New Providence and that customers would experience power outages in two-hour intervals “until further notice”.
Those problems appeared to have been rectified by Wednesday evening but a severe thunderstorm which produced lightning strikes then damaged BPL’s transmission and distribution networks, causing further outages in several communities across the island. Power was restored by Thursday morning but intermittent outages were reported by consumers.
This failure to keep the lights on came months after American company PowerSecure was contracted to take over management at the government-owned utility provider. The new management deal was touted by the government as being the answer to sub-par electricity service and high electricity bills.
“BPL advises its New Providence customers that it is presently experiencing generation challenges at its power stations. As a result, there is insufficient capacity to meet peak customer demand at this time,” the corporation said on Wednesday.
“While efforts are underway to return the affected generator units to service in the shortest possible time, there is presently a generation shortfall. As a result BPL will continue a two hour outage rotation throughout the afternoon ... BPL apologises to its customers and assures them that teams are working quickly to improve generation capacity as soon as possible.”
BPL said some customers may experience longer outages and appear on “several lists” because in order to reduce the load “we may have to temporarily turn off supply to some areas that were previously impacted”. BPL said that the two-hour rotation would continue until generation capacity improves.
Last month, BPL expressed confidence that it would meet peak summer demand while acknowledging that it has been tackling challenges at its Clifton Pier Power Station.